The following article ran in the Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000, edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
The class of 2000 represents a new generation on the verge of adulthood, children and even grandchildren of baby boomers. This year's high school seniors will be the first graduating class of the 21st century.
Most were born in 1982 or 1983 and have yet to vote in their first election. They've not known a time without microwave ovens, VCRs, ATMs, Nintendo or MTV. But they said they are concerned that advances in convenience and technology have taken their toll on the earth's resources.
They remember little of the Reagan or Bush presidencies or the Iran-Contra scandal.
Their recollection of presidential turmoil will be that of President Bill Clinton and the impeachment process and hearings in 1998, not Richard Nixon and Watergate. Some say they vaguely remember when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, a mishap that killed all seven astronauts aboard.
To them, the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism is etched in memory by news clips such as those showing people celebrating the breaking apart of the Berlin Wall.
A century of wars were studied in textbooks, heard about from grandparents and seen re-enacted on movie screens. The class of 2000 was in fourth grade when the Gulf War broke out in 1991. Some said they still remember where they were when they heard American troops were fighting Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait.
When they were in elementary school, students that are now seniors at area high schools were supposed to be the class that would remain smoke-free -- a prediction that hasn't proven true. Still, the class of 2000 holds a lot of promise.
The Gazette-Times invited a few representatives from area high schools to share their thoughts on the turn of the century and the beginning of a new millennium.
What events will you remember from the 20th century?
Sara Seitz (senior, Corvallis High School): Some of the things I'll remember are the O.J. Simpson trials and all this stuff having to do with the White House, the development of the Internet.
Justin Rolfe-Redding (senior, Crescent Valley High School): When the Berlin Wall collapsed, we had never had anything like that. I'll remember the Gorbachev-attempted coup. Here was this pillar of the world that could crumble overnight. I remember when I heard about the Gulf War. I was ice-skating and my dad picked me up. I heard it on the radio.
Reanetta Popoola (senior, Corvallis High School): I think what I'll remember is how much television has developed over time. That shows us just how much the morals and values are changing. I think it's plummeting down. There's a lot of controversy over how the media influences kids. There was a time when families would gather around the television, eating dinner and watching the news.
Lissa Humphrey (senior, Crescent Valley High School): Music is a big part of my life. I remember the tragedies that happened, when Kurt Cobain died. It broke through these boundaries. People mourned for years — they're still mourning.
Alex Scott (senior, Crescent Valley High School): If I were to pick out one thing, it would be the speed of things changing. Looking back, people have been on the moon. Computers used to fill a huge room. Now they're something small.
Who are the people that stand out from the last century?
Sara: Princess Di and Mother Theresa.
Lissa: My mother, because she put my dad through college. She's extremely successful, and she handles everything, and Martin Luther King because he stood up for what he believed in and changed history.
Justin: Robert Baldwin (school board member and former Crescent Valley High School teacher). I had him as a teacher before he retired. He taught me a lot of things. He's kind of a Renaissance man — he reads books on everything. He's a role model and an inspiration.
Alex: The person I respect the most would be my grandfather, who died a few years ago. He was an incredible guy. He knew what he was about. He was an incredibly intelligent, articulate and loving man.
Reanetta: Truly the one I look up to is Jesus Christ. Others ask, "How do you know there's a God?" It's all about faith. Others I respect are Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and my mom.
What will you tell people about the last century when you're older?
Alex: Back in the days when we only had Pentiums ...
Lissa: I'll probably talk about pagers and cell phones. My pager has 10 melodies, silent and two beeps — and those big puffy vests. They're gonna make fun of us.
What items would you put in a time capsule?
Justin: Old calendars.
Lissa: The Mac Apple and a diary of the secret confessions of Lissa Humphrey that documents things that I feel at certain times of my life. But no one could open it until I'm dead.
Sara: The movies "Schindler's List" and "Forrest Gump."
Reanetta: A Coke can or bottle or maybe a package of Kool Aid. Some notes I wrote to God and my Bible. And a book, "Forgetful Freda," that I read in elementary school.
Alex: I'd tape some commercials. You could go back, and it would show what happens.
What do you think will happen in the next 100 years?
Sara: Around this time we think we can fix everything. Sooner or later, we're going to have to face it that we're not going to fix it all with computers.
I've heard that be the year 2020, whites will be a minority in America.
Maybe in the next 100 years they'll find all our lost satellites.
Justin: People don't know where we're headed. We're just trying to live it up.
They'll find a cure for diseases, but then it will be the new AIDS, the new cancer.
Alex: Everything's going to change, things like the Internet. When you can work on a project with someone from another country. I'm actually doing that now — you break down barriers.
But I'm worried that cultures are being lost. Look what's happened to Native Americans. Their society and way of life have disappeared.
We're going to have to live together. Issues of globalization have to be dealt with. The real issue will be people in Second and Third world countries. They'll move from the 15th century to the 20th century in about 10 years. How do they deal with that? Addressing those issues is going to be key.
Reanetta: There will be a push on cloning and growing body parts.
Lissa: I think that it'll bring the first woman president — and that will be me. But the only way is if people accept normal human behavior. I want to be totally honest. I don't have a religion. But I'm not going to pretend. I'm hoping that religion won't be a big deal.